Moving Beyond Emptiness - The Point Of Life.
The first Chicken Soup For The Soul has a syrupy story about a guy on a beach with thousands of dying, beached starfish. He sees another person picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the sea. He tells the person "you can’t save them all. Most will die here on the sand. What you are doing really won’t make any difference.” In response, the person throws another starfish back into the water and said, “It made a difference to that one.”
I do not believe that emptiness/shunyata is a natural state of consciousness. It is a very specialized one that only comes with incredible training. We must dis-identify with all of our "natural" processes. It is a highly unnatural state of consciousness.
To say that that our self is fundamentally empty is like saying that a human body is mostly empty space between atoms/atomic /sub-atomic particles. It is certainly true from a particular perspective, and profound in that perspective, but misses the point entirely. It is the unique/complex/dynamic interaction of the atomic/subatomic particles that makes Adam different than Mark different than the screen we are reading this on. To ignore the patterns of difference, and to make "transcending noticing/caring about those differences" the "essence" of human experience is questionable at best, and criminal at worst.
To focus on the emptiness of self is like ignoring/discounting the emotions of your partner in a relationship -- you can certainly choose to do that, but the relationship will suffer dramatically. Emotions are not pointless, you are just missing the point.
Beauty, love, joy, compassion -- everything we experience all come from taking a point of view, from standing in a point from which to view, and viewing experience through interpretive lenses. The "point" is not to get to a lens-less place, where things are pointless because you "transcend/dis-identify" with any point/lens. The point is to choose increasingly beautiful lenses, to stand in a point that serves as a cornerstone on which to build truth/knowledge/goodness/justice/beauty - aka Thriving.
All values presuppose the questions "valuable to whom" and "valuable for what?" You can't have values without answering those questions. They are the "context" without which the concept of value can have no meaning. Sure, if you drop the context of "to whom" and "for what" -- there are no values. But by denying any point legitimacy, you simply miss the point. Hence, when you drop context, there is no point to life. Nothing matters BECAUSE you are deleting/dropping/ignoring the "to whom."
To choose this pointlessness is, for me, a fundamental mistake. It is a confusion. Enlightenment, if it means empty and meaningless, is the ultimate con game. It is a tragedy to those who believe it; a comedy to those who recognize it as such.
My understanding of enlightenment is not the emptiness of self, it is the choice-less-ness of self. It is recognizing the nature, not of our dropped context emptiness, but our kept context differences/fullness. It is recognizing the configuration of atomic forces as an organism that thinks/feels, not the space between the sub-atomic particles that make the forces cohere.
Water is wet, rocks are hard, and humans care. Intimacy comes from sharing emotionally vulnerable truths, feeling understood, and feeling accepted by another. That is the reality we inherit as human beings. We cannot choose otherwise. We can choose what we build with the elements we inherit.
We may choose WholeSumly, and create beauty, love, understanding, wealth - Thriving. We may choose unWholeSumly, and create ugliness, hatred, confusion, poverty - Suffering. We can even choose to try to dissociate from all these things, and berate ourselves at our failure to "stablize the non-dual awareness" that we universally fail to achieve. We cannot choose our nature. We is it.
Enlightenment is recognizing that we have choice about how we build on our choicelessness. It is BOTH recognizing that there is no point "out there," AND that there is no escaping the point right here. It is the realization BOTH that the self we think is on trial, whose worth we must prove, is an illusion, AND the Self that cares/loves/rejoices is the most real thing there is. There is BOTH nothing to prove and no one to prove it to AND everything to do. Enlightenment is letting go of our shame/attachment/trophies and embracing our guilt/Identity/rewards.
The point is not to transcend beauty, but to integrate it.
That is the point on which I stand, The Game I Want To Play. the cornerstone of A Game We All Can Win. Wanna Play?